Functional Foods | Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur

Functional Foods


Functional Foods

The term ‘functional foods’ encompass foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods claim that these foods promote optimal health, and help reduce the risk of disease.

In this article, we share on some functional foods, and our recommended consumption of these foods.


Omega 3 Fatty Acids: An unsaturated fatty acid, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).

  • Omega 3 fatty acids significantly reduce the risk for sudden death caused by irregular heartbeat and other causes in patients with known heart disease.
  • Recommendation: 2g to 4g per day in people with hypertriglyceridemia.
  • Sources: Walnuts (¼ cup = 2.3g), chia seeds (1 tbsp = 1.9g), salmon (75g = 1.9g), mackerel (75g = 1g), canola oil (1 tsp = 0.6g).

Nuts (Tree nuts and peanuts)

  • Rich in unsaturated fatty acids, nutrients and other bioactive compounds such as protein, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and other phenolic compounds.
  • Recommendation: 150g per week (30g for 5 days per week) lowers cholesterol by an average of 5% and reduce heart disease risk by 37%.
  • Sources: Almond, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, walnuts, pistachio, macadamia, peanuts, pecan

Soy Protein: Protein found in soybean and soy products.

  • Soybean contains no cholesterol, is low in saturated fat, and is the only plant-sourced food that contains all eight essential amino acids. A good source of fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins.
  • Recommendation: 25g/day reduces 4-5% of LDL-Cholesterol
  • Sources: Firm tofu (1 large block, 350g = 18g), tempeh (90g = 13g), soymilk (1 cup = 7g), edamame (½ cup = 11g)

Plant Sterols: Found naturally in plants. Also known as phytosterols.

  • Plant sterols are structurally similar to the body’s cholesterol, thus compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system
  • Recommendation: 2g to 3g per day reduces LDL-Cholesterol by up to 10%
  • Sources: Chickpeas (1 cup = 0.24g), corn oil (2 tbsp = 0.3g), fortified milk- Marigold HL with Plant sterol (250ml = 0.83g), Anlene Heart Plus (4tbsp = 0.4g), Nestle Omega Plus (3tbsp = 0.6g),

Fibre and Wholegrain:

  • Fibre promotes gut health and reduces risk of developing many chronic diseases. 5 servings of fruits and vegetables will provide you with the daily recommended fibre intake.
  • Recommendation: 25 - 30g fibre per day  (7 - 13g soluble fibre)
  • Fiber (Soluble fibre) sources: Vegetables (½ cup = 5g fiber), fruits (1 serving = 4.4g fiber), black beans (½ cup = 15g total fibre, 3.6g soluble fibre), sweet potato (½ cup = 2g total fiber, 1.8g soluble fibre), avocado (½ fruit, 6.5g total fiber, 2.1g soluble fiber).

Beta Glucan: A soluble fiber that forms a gel in the digestive tract.

  • Beta glucan binds to excess cholesterol and cholesterol like substances within the gut and prevents these from being absorbed. 
  • Recommendation: ≥ 3 g reduce LDL-Cholesterol by up to 5%
  • Sources: Oatmeal (3 tbsp raw = 1g), barley (1/2 cup cooked = 3.5g), oat bran powder- BG22 (2 scoops = 3g), fortified products eg. Nestle Omega Plus Milk with Oats (1 serving = 0.8g)

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